Today’s election is being called a game changer for Pakistan’s democracy. But this time around, one thing is a bit different. Islamist parties, some of whom were earlier banned for inciting violence, hate speech and other similar issues, have been allowed to contest polls. Banned organisation Milli Muslim League (MML),which was not allowed to contest by the ECP, has transferred its candidates to Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek (AAT), another religious right-wing party. Under the umbrella of AAT, 260 MML candidates will contest the polls for national and provincial assembly seats. The ECP banned the MML in 2017 after the US and UN declared the leader of this party, Hafiz Saeed, a terrorist. Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) also has approximately 150 candidates contesting for national assembly seats. Similarly, more than ten other Islamist parties are fielding candidates in today’s election. Despite massive criticism from the civil society, ECP has failed to stop these candidates. If MML has been banned, how can their members and leadership be allowed to contest from other platforms? If these religious organisations succeed in winning 25 seats, it would be alarming for the whole country. The next Parliament could very well be pro-Taliban and extremist, leaving zero chances for a tolerant Pakistan. It’s time to raise our voice against these militant groups, and ensure that they aren’t elected to begin with Legislature needs sound-minded and tolerant members who can respect the institutions. The Islamabad sit-in of TLP is a glaring example of what these religious parties can do if legislation that they do not support is passed. Parties such as TLP and AAT have a history of opposing democracy. How can we expect anything positive from them? The Senate has also recently questioned the interior minister for allowing over 200 candidates of banned outfits in upcoming polls. Before this,Bilawal Bhutto also raised this point when he said, “While these organisations are being encouraged, facilitated and promoted contest elections, we were stopped from campaigning by the Punjab police’s barricades.” On the other hand, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) also has a coalition with Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (S) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which a pro-Taliban party. Recently, a TTP spokesperson also said that they would protect Imran Khan because he is fighting for Islam. The next parliament could very well be a pro-Taliban, extremist and radical place with zero hopes for tolerance and co-existence. It’s time to raise our voice against these militant groups, and ensure that they aren’t elected to begin with. The writer is the student of social science at Government College Mansehra Published in Daily Times, July 25th 2018.